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- August 1972 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The infant republic of the new Turkey under the rule of Kemal Ataturk threatened the peace of the world in 1922 when Turkish forces moved into Monrovia. Warships from three nations were despatched to the Bosphorous and for some months the city of Constantinople lay in the shadows of their guns. The dramatic events of the period were recorded in the journal of Midshipman Walter J.M. Armitage, RAN, then serving in HMS Revenge and this article is an extract from his journal. The maps are also produced from the journal.
HMS Revenge at Constantinople
At 0340 we were ordered to proceed with despatch to Constantinople. Steam was raised for 16 knots and at 0730 we weighed and proceeded. Banks of fog or low clouds were encountered in the Dardanelles, and we were obliged to reduce speed. At 1000 when clear of the fog speed was increased and for the rest of the passage a speed of just under 18 knots was maintained with twelve boilers. At 1630 we anchored in the Bosphorous close to our previous position.
Coaling was commenced at 0900 and 74 tons were taken in at 1130. P and S 6-in. guns crews were fallen out and usual routine was observed. Leave was given until 1900 and for Commissioned Officers in uniform until 2200. The report of the Lausanne Conference deadlock was confirmed in the Leafield Press.
A thick fog was lying over the Bosphorous this morning but it cleared at about 1000. A tug, the Vladimir, was turned over to us from the destroyer flotilla. Steam had not yet been raised in her by a British crew, and the engines were in rather poor condition.
HM Tug Vladimir carried out a steam trial at 1500, which proved satisfactory. An armed party landed at 1400 and entered the Turkish dockyard to remove the essential working parts of three motor launches that had been handed over to the Turks. They were ordered to desist by a representative of the Grand National Assembly of Angora but they met with no armed opposition and removed the carburettors, magnetos, timing wheels, sparking plugs, gearbox, end plates and blowlamps. The party returned at about 1900.
New Year’s Day. New Year’s Eve was very quiet. At midnight sixteen bells were struck by Pay Mid Tomkins. Several other officers then rang about sixteen bells but as there was a thick fog at the time it did not really matter. Eng. Commander Rampling received his promotion. A large number of refugees left Constantinople today. They are mostly Greeks proceeding to their native land.
The weather has been rather cold but so far no great quantity of rain has fallen. The population ashore is quiet but they all seem to think that war is not far distant.
HMS Chrysanthemum shifted berth at 1100. There has been an extraordinary large number of absentees, all of whom were punished by warrant.
A Rugby trial for the Navy team was played at the Sweet Waters of Europe. Vallance was playing full back and was picked to play for the Navy and Army match on Saturday. A concert for the Red and Blue matches was given on the quarterdeck.
General Quarters were exercised in the forenoon. A concert was given on the quarterdeck for the officers and ‘French Leave Caste’.
The Navy and Army Rugby match was played at the Army ground Sweet Waters of Europe. Mid Vallance was playing full back for the Navy. The Navy team won 6-Nil.
The French ships Metz and Waldeck Rousseau carried out exercises off Prinkipe.
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, exercise XX was carried out. All Observation Parties were landed at Haida Pacha and proceeded by a motor lorry to Cham Liza. The parties then dispersed to their OPs. Communication was established between the OPs and bombarding ships by Telephone W/T and visual. The exercise was quite satisfactory.
Pay Mid Lancaster left the ship today and took passage in the Abberia for Alexandria. He has been appointed to a light cruiser on the China Station.
The current was extremely strong today.
General Quarters were exercised during the forenoon. The Lausanne Conference seems to be proceeding quite satisfactorily.
A pick up Rugby match was played at the ground of the Sweet Waters. Apart from a layer of mud inches deep the ground was quite good.
The RA inspected the Ship at General Quarters this forenoon, all dynamos and all hydraulic pumps were running. Apparently the Admiral was satisfied with the inspection.
A very large fire occurred onshore this evening. It was lucky that there was no wind otherwise a large portion of Pera would have been destroyed. The fire approached to within 200 yards of an army ammunition dump.
Hands were mustered by the open list at 0915 for the Admiral’s inspection. Hands then shifted into No. 5s and platoons and divisions were inspected at small arms drill and physical training. Bags and hammocks were then laid out for inspection. The inspection was completed by 1230.
The Engineer Captain is to inspect the ship department tomorrow and all hands were employed cleaning up.
The EC2 inspected the department. At dusk snow began to fall and continued with hail all through the night. On Saturday morning there was four inches of snow on the decks.
On Saturday afternoon I was told that I would join HMHS Maine on Monday as trouble in one of my front teeth was causing a lot of swelling of my face.
I rejoined the ship from HMHS Maine with my face and nose in their normal positions and magnitude.
Church was held on the battery. The weather was cold but fine.
At 0930 I went ashore to Shamboul station to meet the Orient Express and Eng. Lieut Commdr. Slade who is relieving the Senior Engineer. I returned to the ship at 1200.
We proceeded to sea at 0800 to carry out Gunnery exercises. Anchoring off Moda at 2030. At 1930 a pronounced ‘knock’ was heard in the Port Cruiser turbine so it was topped and unclutched. Lieutenant Commander (E) James rejoined the ship today.